• Justin O. Cooper

Still Here, Still Standing

Updated: Apr 25

Two years ago this month I was laid off from a job that I loved. It was a career opportunity that validated the bold move I'd made in 2014 to move to Los Angeles from Atlanta, where I garnered a significant amount of success. LA has been and remains a beast of a different kind. Moving to the City of Angels, I didn't know anyone, had no connections, friends, or family, and my past achievements meant very little as I was one of many Tinseltown hopefuls vying for a big break or at least a foot in the door. My previous job afforded me access to Hollywood studio executives, producers, and extended my global reach. In my highly visible role I operated in my giftedness, I drew from my years of experience, I was running on all cylinders, and then boom it was over! The emotional toll of being laid off was akin to other negative emotional experiences I felt before, a bad breakup, or an unexpected death. My emotions spanned the gamut - shock, sadness, anger, and finally, acceptance. I subsequently applied for more than 1,000 jobs online between Linkedin and Indeed. I mastered the art of the interview and got a handful of offers that I declined as they weren't a good fit for the trajectory I was mapping out for myself. A time did come when two great opportunities piqued my interest, a government film industry-focused gig with the City of LA, and an entertainment opportunity in New Zealand (I'd begun the immigration process). To my dismay, both opportunities fizzled out. By the end of 2017, countless rejections sent me spiraling to the lowest point I'd ever experienced in my adulthood. I'd burned through my savings, and there seemed to be no light above in the sunken place I found myself in. I recall in one of my many self-loathing groanings to Allah that if this was the end to please let me go quickly. Despondency had become my albatross yet through the mental muck and mire I persisted somehow. I couldn't afford to get stuck there. I'm thankful for my few close confidants that knew about my situation. They offered encouragement, a safe space to vent without judgment, financially supported me, and coaxed me out of my self imposed exile and away from the computer and that 1001 job application. While my professional associates referred me to new gigs, clients, and opportunities that allowed my creativity to flow again, these collective souls of goodwill, my tribe, helped me to find a renewed sense of peace and purpose. Through their support, I regained the strength and courage to ultimately make my way with the launch of JOC Media & Entertainment. What I learned in this process is that when we think of what's happened to us as being the worst thing ever, it is a metamorphosis. It serves as a reminder that everything you need is inside of you. These challenges propel us forward, prompting us to use our gifts (abilities, talents, and skills) to move to the next station in our personal and professional lives. When we believe in ourselves and put action to our faith, our gifts will open doors and make room for us, and position us to make our presence known among people of prestige, royalty, and influence. My life since my lay off has been proof of this. I'm a better person because of this experience. In 2017 I was laid off, and today I'm still here, still standing and thriving. What's to come is better than what's been. Don't ever quit!

#Inspiration #Motivation #SelfEmpowerment

#Faith #Belief #Faith #Courage #Wisdom